At the heart of Foreign Correspondents are the mysterious (Arnold) Noid (Harbel) (on cello and jing-hu), Matija Schellander (contrabass, Victorian Synthesizer) and Ryu Hankil, who is billed as "performer (typewriter)." The first of this double disc, "Tokyo Office," is the trio's performance at the Ftarri shop in (duh) Tokyo. The results are a mix of staggered drum rolls (triggered by Hankil's typewriter), tender muted plucks, contemplative "silence,' metallic clinking and often bombastic maelstroms of grinding bows and screeching high frequencies. It is a rhythmic, textural time bomb.
Disc two is a sonic avalanche of performers, environments and conversations the original threesome encountered while travelling and performing throughout Europe and Asia. Horns, laptops, toys, synthesizers, contrabass, more synthesizers and electronics mix with subway doors, "acoustic traffic light," café ambiance, "machine drones in the staircase of the (Hong Kong) CIA building," jing-hu players in a Beijing park, and so on.
Apart from an explosive parade on "Pachinko Hall near Chidoribashi station," the first ten (of twenty five) tracks offer peaceful reflection of tapping on various surfaces, ample pauses, shuffling, feint sine-waves, creaking of bass and cello bodies, music box, moaning Daxophone, tweeting bird etc. For "Morso | Naha | Oct. 19th 2013" Noid, Schellander and Takeshi Ishihara relatively blast with heavy bows on the low end, percussive smacks and the mysterious Victorian Synthesizer. The next three performances took place as part of the renowned Seoul Dotolim series, but retain the same unconventional playfulness of the rest of this album (i.e. "playing air horns" while walking away from the venue, show and tell with participants in the Victorian Synthesizer Orchestra). The finale, "Zaija | Peking | Nov 3rd. 2013," slinks in a cloak of gentle modular synth feedback (courtesy of Quing Li and Weisi Li) rumbling bass strings, nervous blips and a distorted, animated radio announcer. It is a fitting closer to the rollercoaster of the last hour and ten minutes.
"Wheeled Suitcases on a Paved Street," "Fuel Tank Filled with Sound Art," "MP3 Players of the Audience Playing Random Music" do not seem inviting or doable as part of the larger concept, but despite the disparate elements, the pieces as a whole interpret as organic, like a family photo album; the household members are the same, but you have Schellander in his Halloween costume, at the beach, at Christmas — you get it.
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